really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
104,335 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Kia Sorento engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Kia Sorento Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #36

Jul 302016


  • 88,025 miles


While under motion on highway at 65+ mph, lost power steering due to crank shaft bolt and pulley failure, resulting in complete loss of accessory functions.

- Apalachin, NY, USA

problem #35

Mar 192016


  • 108,510 miles
The crankshaft bolt supporting the timing sprocket and balance pulley snapped again for the third time. Right now the vehicle is in the the Kia dealer service center to replace it. Once again they are asking for a ridiculous amount of money to fix. Last bolt lasted 4,000 miles before it snapped while driving 25 mph.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #34

May 232014


  • 173,164 miles
While driving on route 495 North in Massachusetts between exits 7 and 8, my Kia Sorento lost power to the engine to the point I had to stop in the breakdown lane. No warning of prior smell or power loss had occurred prior to the incident. Towed to two different service stations and both informed me that the engine failed and lost compression on more than one cylinders. Very dangerous situation to be on the highway and losing power.

- Pawtucket, RI, USA

problem #33

May 212014


  • 41,200 miles



- Seaford, NY, USA

problem #32

Dec 152015


  • 114,283 miles
Crankshaft bolt backed out lost power steering brakes, Kia is aware of this problem from 2002 to 2009 many reports have been filed, its the manufacturing of the bolt which is to small, they are not standing by this defect, there is no permenant fix for this and Kia isn't warning anyone of this problem which could lead into a fatile accident with injuries and death.going at a high rate of speed there would be no control even at slow there is no easy turning the wheel.now im stuck with this problem and a temp fix wont fix it, so now I have no vehicle or anyway to get one, no way to work, no money to temp fix it, this is unjust and this vehicle should have never passed specs to be on the road.Kia should step up and honor there products, they are deceiving buyers and putting there life in danger and U don't know it till it happens, I didn't...I was taking my daughter to school I am thankful I wasn't on the highway possible resulting in my familys life or someone else on the road, with no control all because of there negligence not caring for peoples lifes but for money, its sad.if U pull up crankshaft bolt for Kia it will show you all the complaints and problems and this is a manufacturing problem and a dangerous defect, because you lose control of handiling of your vehicle.

- Washington, IN, USA

problem #31

Nov 072015


  • 89,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Kia Sorento. While driving approximately 35 mph, the vehicle lost power. The brake light and battery light illuminated. The vehicle was able to restart after numerous attempts. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who diagnosed that the crankshaft bolt needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 89,000.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #30

Sep 052015


  • miles


I was driving back from orlando, Florida after picking up my daughter who travelled down from uf in gainesville - 1st weekend in September, 2015. We were travelling South I95 in the middle lane, when the car completely shut off all the red lights on the dash board came on. Luckily I was able to steer the car over to the hard shoulder, this was extremely hard, & press hard on the brakes to stop. After 5mins or so I tried starting the car again, which to my surprised it started and we continued on our journey, this time I stayed in the right hand lane, next to the hard shoulder, after a few miles, the same thing happened exactly again. The engine shut off, and came to a halt. Now we were both upset as it was after 10pm at night, we called home to let someone know to be alert, and in the mean time started the car again, this off and on again issue occurred in total four times before we managed to get home safely. Due to driving very slowly along the highway!!! the next day the car started first time, drove to auto zone as it was a public holiday, after putting their machine on it. The test came back saying maybe it needed water, and a few other codes. They advise to take it to a car mechanic asap, started the car made it 1/2 way home, and the car stopped dead in the middle of a two lane road, nearly causing an accident. After pushing the car to a side road, left it for 4hrs came back & manage to get home. The next day along with my son driving the Kia, and myself behind him we attempted to get to the car mechanic we never made it, the van shut down, again. Push it to another side road, and had to have it towed to the mechanic. Been there ever since, car mechanic is having trouble locating the problem, called the dealer they have offered no help. Noticed there have been reported problems occurring with the new 2016 models of the same issue!!

- Palm Bay, FL, USA

problem #29

Jan 072015


  • 147,233 miles
While driving on highway approx 55mph the car just power. Dead gas pedal. Had to get over to shoulder but could not due to the steering locking up and the car shutting down. I got assistance from passerby who go me over to shoulder. I started up the car and it started up and ran with no issue. Sudden shut dowm of engine is very dangerous. Once I got home and had the car checked the mechanic could not duplicate the incident in order to make repairs. This happened 2 more times and only happens to me on highway driving. Never in city driving.

- Long Branch, NJ, USA

problem #28

Aug 142015


  • 124,000 miles
The car started making a scrubbing sound and the brakes would not work. The next day the brakes worked scrubbing sound continued and we were told by the mechanic that the engine needs replacing.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #27

Jul 072015


  • 83,986 miles
The bolt holding the harmonic balancer pulley to the crankshaft fell out and all the engine belts and pulleys stopped turning resulting in a loss of power steering, and making the vehicle very difficult to steer. This happened at a low speed and the driver was barely able to turn off the road without an accident. At a higher speed, in heavy traffic, or on mountain roads, the result would likely have been much worse. The car was towed to a Kia dealer and repaired for approximately $1,500, replacing the failed parts with new parts and with a warranty of 12 months/10 thousand miles. Previously, at 70 thousand miles as preventive maintenance, the timing belt was replaced by a Kia dealer. Kia motors, having known of many failures of the bolt, sprocket, and pulley, should have upgraded these parts years ago and issued a recall or at least a service bulletin to avoid such dangerous failures. After our experience, we did not trust this car and traded it in for a new car from hopefully a more responsible manufacturer.

- Fresno, CA, USA

problem #26

Jul 082015


  • 178,000 miles


Engine light is on, airbag light is on, clock can't keep right time, now won't start at all, I wished I never bought this 2003 Kia Sorento, they are nothing but junk. Please anybody who reads this do not buy a Kia vehicle. I hate Kia vehicles, I will never own one again, I would not take a Kia vehicle, even if they give me one. To many problems, since I bought it, haven't been anywhere in two weeks, because Kia vehicle is junk.

- Warfield, KY, USA

problem #25

Jul 082015


  • 174,000 miles
All lights come on, horn blows, but will not start at all, this Kia Sorento is junk, its falling apart, I got a disable mother, now can't take her to her doctor appointments, every since I had it, its been nothing but junk, we live on fixed income, can't afford to get another vehicle, and this 2003 Kia Sorento should not be on the road, all Kia Sorento vehicles are junk, clock is messed up, comes off and on, airbag light is on, now won't even start at all, something needs to be done about Kia dealerships selling junk vehicles, will complain again and again, they are junk!

- Warfield, KY, USA

problem #24

Apr 062015

Sorento 4WD 6-cyl

  • 123,000 miles
I purchased this car brand new from stevens Kia in patchogue, NY and had them replace the timing belt @ 58K miles as per their guide lines. While driving the car I lost my power steering and electrical charging system, I was going around 45mph, I lost control of the car and was able to get it on the side of the road without any damage to the car or anything else. I called corporate Kia and explained the problem and was told the car is out of warranty.(it has 123K miles on it). They told me if I wanted I could have it towed to a Kia dealer and they would look at it for a diagnosis fee, but it was still out of warranty and they also told me my VIN# didn't fall into the recall they had concerning that issue. I had my mechanic look at it and he told me the crankshaft dowel pin snapped on the timing gear causing the harmonic balancer to fall off thus taking all the belts with it. It costed me over $2,000 to have the car repaired. After doing a goggle search it seems this is a common problem with these cars and is being ignored by corporate Kia.

- Medford, NY, USA

problem #23

Jan 112015

Sorento 4WD 6-cyl

  • 135,000 miles
I have service records showing I had the crankshaft pulley replaced at 55,000 miles under warranty by Kia. The crankshaft pulley broke off at 105,000 miles. I was able to have the vehicle repaired cost $1500 out of my pocket. On 1/11/2015 the crankshaft pulley broke off for a 3rd time, shearing the threads to the engine, and causing the engine to no longer work. All 3 events caused loss of power and able to steer the vehicle.

- Lisbon, WI, USA

problem #22

Apr 232014

Sorento 4WD 6-cyl

  • 155,000 miles
Driving vehicle at about 45mph, engine started making a screeching noise and got louder when accelerating. There was a loud bang from engine area and immediately lost all power and ability to steer and brake. We were approaching a busy intersection and had to pull the emergency brake to avoid running a red light into oncoming traffic. Had vehicle towed to our dealership. The crankshaft pulley bolt snapped off and the belt and pulley fell off. The bolt did not break far enough into the engine block so repair was able to replace it. After this happened we learned of the safety concern with said vehicle and Kia denies anything wrong with their Sorentos. There is a pending lawsuit against Kia for this known problem. This is a very dangerous situation and we advised the dealer that we want to trade the vehicle as it poses a very serious safety problem. Kia should provide a major recall. Now getting a hard time from dealer. We are stuck in the middle and still owe a lot on this hazardous vehicle.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #21

Aug 012014


  • miles
The overflow bottle for the radiator has been leaking again. The first one that came with the car was replaced in 2011 and now we are having to replace the radiator reservoir again.

- Mapleton, UT, USA

problem #20

Aug 042014

Sorento 6-cyl

  • 122,049 miles
I was told by the mechanic that "something happened inside the engine that cannot be repaired". prior to the engine failure (may, 2014) the rear throttle plate came apart and lodged in the lower intake manifold. The mechanic was unable to retrieve the screws and one was even lodged in a cylinder head. A throttle plate assembly was installed and the car was drivable but with an audible noise. At this time I was told the same problem exists with many Kia's and yet a recall has not been issued. My car is not drivable, it's a V6 and the left side of the engine is completely shut down and I feel Kia could have avoided this with a recall when they have known for years that the problem exists.

- San Marcos, CA, USA

problem #19

Dec 112013


  • 96,000 miles
I bought a 2003 Kia Sorento from my niece back in November 2013 for $2000 and not even two weeks into owning this vehicle, the crank shaft broke in half! the bolt broke off in half inside the crank shaft pulley and the other half of the bolt was inside the crank shaft case. To my understanding, this is the second time that the crank shaft needed repairing (my niece, husband who were the first and original owners to this Kia Sorento had it break down on him on the freeway as well, had to get it towed to Kia then paid them to fix it when they owned the vehicle) but this time, when this issue happened again while I owned the vehicle, the crank shaft failed in a greater and more costly condition then the first time the crank shaft failed on them. Which then caused engine failure, loss of power steering, loss of the charging system, loss of the cooling system and loss of control of the vehicle, everything shut down, vehicle wouldn't start up after that and it could have been a very dangerous situation as it happened while on the freeway and while my husband, my daughter and my granddaughter was in the vehicle traveling. It could have jeopardize their life's as well as other!

- Ewa Beach, HI, USA

problem #18

Jul 102014

Sorento 6-cyl

  • 124,000 miles
My check engine light came on 2 months ago and I brought it to a Kia dealership who told me it was the cylinders that were miss firing and the belts needed to be replaces and they fixed that. I asked about the crankshaft and they told me it was fine. When I left the light came back on and they told me I need new spark plugs, fixed that and the light came back on again. While driving on the highway the break light and battery light came on and the car began to loose power. Now the car is at another dealership and they are telling me it's the crankshaft. After reading what has happened with many other people I can see the original problem was the crankshaft.I have spent over $4K on fixing the car and the car is not worth it.

- Tewksbury, MA, USA

problem #17

Jan 092014

Sorento 6-cyl

  • 150,000 miles
I am single old lady, late Jan.2014, driving back from orlando, fl. To my home<2 hrs away> on I-95 car slows down, all lights go on dashboard. Get home at 40 miles an hour.next day go to tire plus, can not fix car, engine trouble..go to dealer bev smith Kia, ft.pierce, fl, I am a regular there, with car problemsell me can needs new lower engine, $7000 I almost faint, , car not safe, I left anyway, they would not exactly tell me what wrong with car...coworker at walmart, tells me of mechanic, can fix it...take it there, he tells me what really is wrong with car..screw that hold harmony part, had broken off, half of it was still stuck into lowere engine< by the way, this was a recall back 3 years ago, in which I had complyed with Kia and they had replaced new harmony screw>...this honest mechanic, told me leave Kia over the weekend, willput put screw softener on screw still in engine, see if it comes out...it did, they put new screw, give me all new belts, I paid $1,800 of my own money, ..I go ahead and drive to miami, fll< 2 hrs away> day latter I drive to orlando, fl.< 3 hrs away>...in I 95....next day, try to get out of my driveway, same thing happened...good mechanic comes over to my house, said same screw came off...he fixes it again, $1,500, ...he tells me, get new car, do not keep this Kia Sorento 2003, car has flaw, can not be fixed....if keep it, just for around town drive, under 50 miles an hour, do not take turnpike or interstate highways...I contacted Kia motors, bev smith Kia, told them about recall screw replacement, tell me out of warranty, neither will really answer back...no money, no new car....Kia motors is a crook, ...tell me car out of warranty, that what do I want with old car...can not find any other prior complaints I made with car, since first year I bought it...

- P.Sl., FL, USA

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